Tonight, Grandma is nervous about dinner. Mom’s half-sister, Hillary, is coming to town. She’s the quiet one, the one who grew up in the Mid-West and was raised Methodist: she tends to just watch and listen as the cacophonous voices rise and fall around the dinner table. Tonight they’re moving out of the kitchen, into the dining room and putting the white cloth on the table. Grandma says a little prayer that there won’t be red wine stains on her precious family linens. She crosses herself as she asks the Blessed Mother to calm the children of Uncle Bernie, who have this thing about Hillary. Fortunately, Hillary’s husband is coming with her. He has no Mid-Western reticence when it comes to political conversation or touting Hillary’s accomplishments.
Mom says not to worry as she gently pats the pasta that will fill the big platter in the center of the table. Hillary has become a grandmother since they saw her last and the second table will be full with kids. She can picture Hillary moving down to the kids table and listening to their chatter and troubles and what they think about school. Grandma keeps quiet, but she knows this family. Some will welcome their worldly and accomplished cousin—others, like Uncle Bernie’s kids,—will judge her quiet demeanor as lack of passion or judgement of their behavior. Either way, the conversation will turn into politics and all bets are off. And that’s the way this family is! Alla Familia! To the Family!
See part 1 here: Dining with the Dems
Yesterday I talked about how I see the Democratic Party as this big, noisy, inclusive family that agrees to disagree, sometimes loudly, but comes back together in the end. As I watched the DNC’s second night, I was overwhelmed with the diversity. Tears flowed as I listened to the stories of “Mothers of the Movement” and Andra Day singing “Rise Up,” and a woman who had been trafficked sharing her story.
Watching the passion of people who are waiting for the final glass ceiling to break, I had an epiphany.
I understand some of Hillary Clinton because I share some of her traits! I grew up in Illinois, as she did. She was raised Methodist with strict emphasis on doing the most good possible. I was raised Catholic and my teachers were Ursuline nuns who emphasized charity, service and…doing good! My family had rules that included not blowing your own horn. You were to do your work, help others where you could, and know that God kept track of the balance. In these times where we share every single happening of our day in a selfie, on Twitter or Facebook, understanding someone who does her work quietly, effectively and behind the scenes is difficult. The hubris of the average politician who speaks in terms of “I, I and I” is the norm. Receiving awards for just showing up is the norm. Someone who works her whole life, as Hillary has, for children, women and the less-served, labors in the vineyard of obscurity. But…and this is the most important part…she knows where she has made a difference because each and every person she has touched remembers her. From New York firemen to abused women, their testimonies are powerful. It doesn’t matter to her that Andrea or Wolf or Geraldo didn’t notice. It matters that it gets done.
I’m not saying Hillary and I are alike—I’m just recognizing that some women who are formed by a select Mid-Western and sacred sensibility share certain traits. She is not boring. She is not reticent. She is busy doing good things for people who need her. And, since people need to know these things she has accomplished in her lifetime, she is fortunate to have an articulate spouse and an amazing cadre of friends and supporters who know her heart. That’s the thing…her heart! The following quote from Diane Ackerman lives over my desk:
I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
That’s what Hillary does. God knows, but I do not, where she gets her resilience and the faith to continue on through the slings and arrows of her life. But I’m glad she didn’t quit. That’s another Mid-Western, and American, quality. We don’t quit. I share that with the Bernie supporters who were outside the DNC last night and acknowledged that they didn’t care if DT (he who shall not be named) wins the election. “It’s what they deserve,” said one. Well, my point of view, as a Democrat who dines at the table of all opinions, is that we deserve the best, the brightest and the person with the biggest heart. That’s Hillary and I’m with her!